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J Immunol. 2007 Dec 1;179(11):7568-76.

The rheumatoid arthritis-associated autoantigen hnRNP-A2 (RA33) is a major stimulator of autoimmunity in rats with pristane-induced arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


A single intradermal injection of the mineral oil pristane in susceptible DA.1F rats induces erosive arthritis closely mimicking rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Pristane-induced arthritis (PIA) is driven by autoreactive T cells but no autoantigen has been identified to date. We therefore analyzed B and T cell responses to autoantigens potentially involved in the pathogenesis of RA, including IgG, citrullinated proteins, stress proteins, glucose-6-phosphate isomerase, and heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP)-A2 (RA33). IgG and IgM autoantibodies to hnRNP-A2 were detectable in sera of pristane-primed DA.1F rats already 1 wk before disease onset, reached maximum levels during the acute phase, and correlated with arthritis severity. Apart from rheumatoid factor, autoantibodies to other Ags were not observed. CD4(+) lymph node cells isolated 10 days after pristane injection produced IFN-gamma but not IL-4 in response to stimulation with hnRNP-A2, whereas none of the other candidate Ags elicited cytokine secretion. Surprisingly, hnRNP-A2 also stimulated lymph node cells of naive animals to produce inflammatory cytokines in a MyD88-dependent manner. Furthermore, hnRNP-A2 was highly overexpressed in the joints of rats injected with pristane. Overexpression coincided with the appearance of anti-RA33 Abs and preceded the onset of clinical symptoms of PIA by several days. Taken together, these data suggest hnRNP-A2 to be among the primary inducers of autoimmunity in PIA. Therefore, this Ag might play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of PIA and possibly also human RA.

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